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Dreamways of the Iroquois

Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul

Published by Destiny Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

Explores the ancient Iroquois tradition of dreams, healing, and the recovery of the soul

• Explains Native American shamanic dream practices and their applications and purpose in modern life

• Shows how dreams call us to remember and honor our soul’s true purpose

• Offers powerful Active Dreaming methods for regaining lost soul energy to restore our vitality and identity

The ancient teaching of the Iroquois people is that dreams are experiences of the soul in which we may travel outside the body, across time and space, and into other dimensions--or receive visitations from ancestors or spiritual guides. Dreams also reveal the wishes of the soul, calling us to move beyond our ego agendas and the web of other people’s projections into a deeper, more spirited life. They call us to remember our sacred contracts and reclaim the knowledge that belonged to us, on the levels of soul and spirit, before we entered our present life experience. In dreams we also discover where our vital soul energy may have gone missing--through pain or trauma or heartbreak--and how to get it back.

Robert Moss was called to these ways when he started dreaming in a language he did not know, which proved to be an early form of the Mohawk Iroquois language. From his personal experiences, he developed a spirited approach to dreaming and living that he calls Active Dreaming.

Dreamways of the Iroquois is at once a spiritual odyssey, a tribute to the deep wisdom of the First Peoples, a guide to healing our lives through dreamwork, and an invitation to soul recovery.


Dreaming in Hawk

Called by an Ancient Dreamer

In the mid-1980s, I moved to a farm outside Chatham, in upstate New York, to get away from the hurry of big cities and the commercial fast track I had been on. I bought the farm because of an old white oak behind the house that had survived the lightning. I felt an ancient kinship with this oak. When I sat under her canopy, with my back against her broad trunk, and let my awareness drift, I found myself watching scenes that might have been played out on this land in the centuries the oak had stood here. I felt I could slip down deep into the earth through her roots. I felt a deep earth energy rising up, strong and juicy, through the soles of my feet, up through the base of my spine and up through my lower energy centers. I let my awareness float up, and drank the sunlight, like the tree. I flowed into the deep dream of the heartwood.

I opened my eyes and looked skyward. A red-tailed hawk hovered directly overhead, turning in slow circles. Its underfeathers flashed silver-bright. Its wedge-shaped tail was a deep russet red. It cried out several times, a sharp, slurring call. Krrrrr, krrrr, krrrr. As I walked back to the farmhouse, I found that the hawk had left me a wing feather. I took it as confirmation of what I had felt, sitting with the oak. I was being called to this land.

After I moved to the farm, the red-tailed hawk often appeared when I was walking the land, circling low over my head, speaking with gathering insistence in a language I felt I could understand--if only I could speak hawk.

One night, the hawk lent me her wings. On a night when the lightning bugs were dancing over the fields, I drifted in the twilight zone between waking and sleep. I found myself lifting effortlessly out of my body. I flowed towards a window, and its texture stretched like toffee to let me pass. I reveled in the sense of flight as I lifted above the tree line, traveling north above the village in the direction of Lake George. The sense of flying was vividly physical and, as I enjoyed it, I realized that I was neither disembodied nor confined to my regular form. I had sprouted wings. They were those of a hawk, but scaled to my human proportions. I enjoyed the sensation of riding a thermal, and of swooping down to inspect the shoreline of the lake--then a small stab of discomfort as one of my wings scraped the needles of an old dried-up spruce.

I noticed that the scenes below me seemed to be those of another time. There was no development around the lake, no modern roads, few signs of any kind of settlement. I flew over primal forests. I felt a tug of intention drawing me even farther north. I chose to follow it, without any sense of compulsion. I was drawn down to a cabin in the woods, and felt I might be somewhere near Montreal, though in this reality the city of Montreal did not exist.

I was welcomed by an elderly woman of great beauty and power. She held a wide beaded belt. One end was draped over her shoulder. She stroked the belt as she spoke in a musical cadenced voice, wave after wave of sound lapping like lake water. I noticed that the beads were cylindrical and were mostly shining white, so bright they cast a glow between us. Human and animal figures had been outlined in darker beads.

I was thrilled by this encounter, but mystified. The ancient woman’s language was more foreign to me than the hawk’s. I could not identify her language, let alone decipher what she was saying. I knew so little about Native American cultures at that time that I could not even identify the belt as wampum, its white beads sliced and shaped and drilled from seashells (the columellas of the small whelks of the New England shore). I had no idea of the mystical importance of these “shells of life” for the Iroquois, or that in Iroquois tradition nothing of importance is uttered in public without wampum.

My flight to the ancient woman set me in search of information on the First Peoples of the area where I was living. I soon determined that I was living on what had formerly been Mahican land, and that many of the Mahicans had been adopted into the Mohawk nation on the other side of the Hudson River. The Mohawks--formidable warriors and diplomatists, as well as powerful dreamers--were an Iroquois people who had dominated the early American frontier.

In subsequent dreams and visions, I was drawn deeper into the world of the ancient woman. Though she spoke in a language I did not know, she spoke--like the hawk--as if I should understand her. I wrote down bits and pieces of her monologues, transcribing the words phonetically as best I could. Then I sought out people in the ordinary world who might be able to decipher them for me. Some Iroquois contacts suggested that I seemed to be dreaming in an archaic form of the Mohawk language--"the way we might have spoken three hundred years ago"--laced with some Huron words.

As I studied these words, I realized that my dreams had introduced me to dreamways that go deeper than mainstream Western psychology, and deeper than the surface world.

When I first spoke of my dream encounters to an elder at Onondaga, he said matter-of-factly, “I guess you made some visits.” He explained, “Some of our great ones stay close to the earth to watch over our people and to defend the earth itself. They might talk to you. You dream strong."

About The Author

Robert Moss, the creator of Active Dreaming, is a best-selling novelist, journalist, historian, and independent scholar. He leads popular workshops all over the world, and online courses at His seven books on Active Dreaming include Conscious Dreaming, Dreamways of the Iroquois, The Dreamer's Book of the Dead, The Three "Only" Things, The Secret History of Dreaming and Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death. He lives in upstate New York.

For an events schedule, visit the author's web site at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Destiny Books (December 16, 2004)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781594776212

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Raves and Reviews

“One of the more active players in the modern field of dreams is Robert Moss. He has been an exemplary explorer of dreamworlds and a prolific sharer of his discoveries. He dives into his dreams and accepts the invitations into other realities which they provide him. He is not so much an interpreter of dreams as an explorer; he talks less about what dreams mean and more about the dimensions of consciousness they reveal. In Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul (Destiny Books), he tells us the story of his spiritual initiation by the spirits of Native Americans that occurred in his dreams, and his synchronistic daytime interaction with indigenous dreamkeepers. He shares what he has learned from these dream encounters about the soul’s journey in consciousness, a story similar to Edgar Cayce’s “mythistory” (to use one of Moss’s terms) of the soul’s creation by, separation from, and reunion with the Creator. It would be fair to say that to Moss, the important thing about dreamwork is for us to use it to remember our true spiritual nature as soul. I’ve adopted a similar idea in an attempt to summarize Cayce’s view: the purpose of dreaming is for us to empathize with our soul, the treasure within. Ideally, dreamwork would make soul awareness, which is usually dormant except while we sleep, more a part of our waking consciousness. Moss repeatedly admonishes us that a dream is a call to action. We need to act upon the dream to honor the soul that brought it to our awareness. One of the actions he values most is to sing the dream! Imagine doing that. Attempting to sing a dream, as I can attest, does put one in touch with the dream’s mood, the shadow of soul. Singing creates a spell in which the enchantment of soul expressed in that dream can be experienced. It is more an experience of energy than insight. Being in touch with soul energy may seem impractical, but with experience, one comes to realize how important it is to be able to approach the world with a non-material consciousness. Dreams are essential to bring a sense of intuitive, timeless being into a co-creative relationship with the unfolding experiences of one’s lifetime. The alternative, as in Moss’s horrific dream, of a modern man amnesic for soul leading a lifeless, mechanical existence, is completely impractical. Creating from the impulses of soul--whether it be an artistic or inventive work, an attempt to refashion a relationship, or a new way of honoring the awareness of Spirit--is the evolving style of today’s active dreamwork.”

– Henry Reed, “A Dream is a Call to Action” in Venture Inward, March 2006

"Dreamways of the Iroquois is at once a spiritual odyssey, ...a guide to healing our lives through dreamwork,...and an invitation to soul recovery."

– Branches of Light, Spring-Summer-Fall 2005

"...reveals the connections between dreams, spirit, wishes, and healing."

– The Midwest Book Review, June 2005

" insightful discussion of how dreams can be used to reclaim the vital energy of the soul itself."

– The Midwest Book Review, June 2005

“Robert Moss opens ancient and modern pathways into the realms of the soul, giving us insights into our deep humanity and into our American heritage. As a spiritual teacher he is world class.”

– David Spangler, author of Everyday Miracles: The Inner Art of Manifestation

“Reveals the sacred art of dreaming that belongs to all of us, showing us how to navigate the web of dreams for the good of the world soul.”

– Caitlín Matthews, coauthor of Walkers Between the Worlds

“Robert Moss offers us powerful and much needed medicine for our time, combining well-researched and fascinating Iroquois legends and history, the wisdom of his ancient and contemporary guides, and his own truths and teachings to inspire us to once again walk the path of soul and spirit, remembering and honoring our dreams. Highly recommended!”

– Rita Dwyer, past president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams

“Moss’s book reminds us of the spiritual magic awaiting each of us tonight when we cross the dreamgate to personal discovery. On the wings of his shamanic adventure, we follow Red-tailed Hawk, Dancing Bear, Silver Wolf, Wounded Stag, and his other guides to encounter the Ancient Mother who teaches him, and us, the ‘way of the heart.’ His practical tools help today’s readers reclaim these ancient Dreamways for our own paths to healing and soul remembering.”

– Patricia Garfield, Ph.D., author of Creative Dreaming and co-founder of The Association for the Stud

“In this remarkable book Robert Moss participates in Native American cultural knowledge directly--via his own dreams. His experiences delving into the Iroquois spiritual world along with his use of fascinating historical materials combine to make a rich literary feast. Dreamways of the Iroquois suggests that we profoundly coexist with those who live, or have lived, in our landscapes. It also offers valuable dreamwork techniques for understanding ourselves.”

– Charles Stewart, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University College of London

"Dreamways of the Iroquois is filled with wonderful stories of dreamers who are time travelers and shapeshifters in their sleeping dreams and waking visions."

– Susan LosCalzo, Lofty Nations, New Age Retailer, Holiday 2005

"This is a wonderfully written, intensely engaging and spiritually important work. . . . Not only is this a great book about dreaming, it's a fascinating exploration of the Iroquois peoples and an illuminating adventure into the world of shamanism."

– Dawn Brunke, Alaska Wellness, Jan 2006

“Before the European invasion of North America, advanced systems of knowledge had been amassed over the centuries by indigenous people. One of the most remarkable aspects of the Iroquois tradition was the process by which they worked with dreams. In this entertaining and informative book, Robert Moss has made these 'dreamways' available to contemporary readers, who will be inspired by the spiritual insight and practical advice that is still applicable today.”

– Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., co-author of Extraordinary Dreams

"Timely and significant, this is a powerful and richly satisfying combination of myth, history, dream-tellings, stories, poems, and practical tools for 'reaching for the sky.' It provides answers for improving the everyday discipline of dreaming in a culture that has all but lost its soul by forgetting to dream."

– Bobbye Middendorf, ForeWord, Mar-Apr 2005

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